Take it easy
  Delamar (Lincoln Co.)
MAP

37°27'28.38"N 114°46'12.11"W

VISITED April 2021
DIRECTIONS From Caliente: Travel west on US 93 for 17.6 miles; turn south on local road for 5.7 miles; veer east and continue for 7.1 miles.
WHAT WAS

Briefly named "Ferguson," The name Delamar commemorates Captain Joseph Raphael De Lamar (September 2, 1843 – December 1, 1918) , who purchased a group of mines later named for him. Born in Amsterdam, De Lamar was a stowaway, a sailor, a ship captain, a marine salvager, and an African trader and explorer, before he became a miner and mining investor, Wall Street trader, Idaho state senator and art connoisseur, among his many other interests.

Delamar is probably best known for its reputation of afflicting many of the people who lived and worked there with silicosis from the dust created while processing the ore.

Frank Pace drew my attention to the tailing dumps. Where we were standing on the old road, the lazy July wind was scarcely strong enough to stir the leaves of the creosotes, yet there was rising from the tailing piles
a fantastic spiral of dust, as dense and white as sea fog. Mounting into the sky, this dust column eventually met with a heavier current of air, flattened against it and slowly disintegrated into
nothingness."That dust," said Frank, "is Cambrian quartzite — more than 80 percent silica. With this little breeze having that effect on the packed tailings, you can imagine what it was like when all the mines and mills were operating at capacity! No wonder the camp was known as a man-killer! "Most of the work," he continued, "was done by farm boys who came over from the Mormon settlements in southwestern Utah. They had never even heard of silicosis—but after three or four months in the mines and mill at DeLamar, they would start coughing. Some died in a few weeks; others hung on for years—too sick to work, too stubborn to die. "The air was so impregnated with silica dust that even women and children who never went near the mines or mills would occasionally contract silicosis. Even horses eventually died from the dust."
- Golden Ghost of the Nevada Hills, Desert Magazine, January 1954, By NELL MURBARGER

First, an overview:

Delamar, “The Widow Maker” 1893-1909
John and Olivia Ferguson discovered gold twelve miles south of here around 1891. The original name of the camp they established was Ferguson. However, it was eventually renamed "Delamar” after John DeLamar, an entrepreneur who bought the best mining claims in 1893 for $150,000. Eventually, over 1500 residents settled in this isolated place. The town contained a newspaper, hospital, school, churches, saloons, stores, a theater and professionals. Entertainment included brass bands, dance orchestras, and stage attractions at the opera house. Water came from Meadows Valley Wash 12 miles away. All other materials were hauled through the mountains by mule team 150 miles from a railroad head at Millard, Utah. For 16 years, most of the bullion was hauled out in the same manner. The dry milling processes used prior to the introduction of wet methods created a fine silica dust, or “death” dust, causing the deaths of many residents and gave the town its nickname, “The Widow Maker". Delamar produced $25,000,000 in gold and was Nevada’s leading producer at the turn of the twentieth century.
-STATE HISTORICAL MARKER NO. 90

I've seen several references to "John" De Lamar, but I'm pretty sure his name was actually "Joseph."

The Delamar or Ferguson mining district is centered around the ghost town of Delamar on the western slope of the northern Delamar Mountains. The main portion of the historic mining district is located in the area between Monkey Wrench Wash and Cedar Wash in the southeastern portion of T55, R64E and the northeastern portion of T55, R65E. For the purpose of this report, the limits of the Delamar district have been expanded to include all of the northern Delamar Mountains between Meadow Valley Wash, Delamar Valley and extending between T48 and T78.
HISTORY
According to the account given in Callaghan, 1937, the first discoveries at Delamar were made in 1891 near Monkey Wrench Wash in the northern part of the district. Claims were located at the Magnolia mine, about one mile to the south of the Monkey Wrench, in March 1892, and the Delamar — April Fool area was staked about one month later. The district was originally named for its discoverers, John E. and Alvin Ferguson, farmers from Pahranagat Valley. In 1893, moat of the claims in the district were acquired by Capt. J. R. De Lamar, a mining entrepreneur who was associated with many other mining ventures in the west. De Lamar carried the Delamar and April Fool mines to production, and the Delamar district was the premier producer of gold in Nevada in 1894. Between that time and 1902, the Delamar mines produced $9,500,000 in gold and silver.
In 1902, De Lamar sold his interest in the Delamar mines to a group of eastern investors, and a new operating company, Bamberger—Delamar Gold Mining Co., was formed. This group resumed production in 1903 and operated in the district until 1909 when the mines were permanently closed. During this second period of operation, $3,400,000 in gold and silver was produced. The district was idle until 1932 when retreatment of old mill railings began. Between 1932 and 1940, an additional $781,500 in gold was recovered. Total production of the Delamar district through 1950 is $14,983,700 in gold, silver, and minor lead and copper. Delamar's gold production has always been emphasized at the expense of its silver output. The district is, however, a silver—gold district as the average ratio of gold to silver has been about 1:3 (Callaghan, 1937, p.
47).
-Delamar District (FROM NBMG OPEN FILE 84-1)


Some reports say ore was discovered a year or two earlier.

Gold bearing float was first discovered in 1889 in the Delamar Mountains (formerly called the Bennet Springs Range or the Highland Range) by two young ranchers from the Pahranagat Valley, twenty-three year old John Ferguson and his friend Joe Sharp.
-THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES: A BIO-CULTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE FERGUSON DISTRICT, 1892-1909 By Dawna E. Ferris, 1991


And how did Monkey Wrench Wash get its name?

...soon after leaving home discovered that they had neglected to take with them anything to break rocks with, consequently they kept an eye open for something to supply the place of a hammer. The first and only thing that was discovered was the main part of a monkey wrench with all the attachments long since departed, and with this they proceeded on their trip...
While riding the western slopes of the Delamar range, Ferguson and Sharp noticed alluvial cobbles containing golden flecks. Using the monkey wrench as a makeshift hammer, they tested the ores and named their discovery the "Monkey Wrench" claim. Subsequently, the partners continued exploration in the region, filing claims with the Lincoln County Clerk in Pioche, Nevada
during June of 1890
-THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES: A BIO-CULTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE FERGUSON DISTRICT, 1892-1909 By Dawna E. Ferris, 1991



By the way, if you want to learn everything possible about Delamar, you need to read this thesis written by the lovely and talented Dawna Ferris. If the information you seek is not in here, you don't need to know it.

Between March and June of 1894, Samuel Godbe actively courted Captain John Raphael De La Mar of New York City to invest in the Ferguson District. In late April, 1894, De La Mar purchased the Jim Crow claims for $66,000 and the Monitor for $90,000. Tunnels were started into the deeper ore bodies of the newly-acquired claims. Construction of a blacksmith shop began at the mouth of the old Jim Crow tunnel and 20 more men were immediately employed in the new DeLaMar mines. Massive amounts of equipment and supplies were ordered from Pioche, Eureka, Salt Lake, and points east. In the tradition of late 19th century employer paternalism, the Company planned for the physical necessities of its employees, building company run lodging and boarding houses immediately south of the mines. By early July, 1894, a telephone line connected the DeLaMar Company office with Pioche. Other business establishments, including the newspaper, were allowed to hook into the DeLaMar Company line. Employees and town residents were invited to use this convenience at the very modest charge of 50 cents per call. [Roughly $15.00 in 2020 money] The Captain paid an inspection visit to his new acquisitions on June 7, 1894. A week after this visit, the "Reeves" name was dropped in favor of "DeLamar" and a request made for a post office under the new name.
-THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES: A BIO-CULTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE FERGUSON DISTRICT, 1892-1909 By Dawna E. Ferris, 1991

Things got off to a rocky start.

Last Monday's Ferguson (Lincoln county) Lode says: The heaviest wind storm ever experienced in Helena occurred last Friday. Many tents were blown down, outbuildings overturned, and it was almost impossible to walk about town. At Ferguson every tent was blown down and for a time is looked as if nothing could be saved. Mr. Sevenoak's tent above town and the lodging house of the April Fool were both dismantled.
-The Weekly Gazette and Stockman, Reno, Nevada, October 13, 1892

But progress was being made in the area.

Growth of a Mining Town
On the 30th of April, 1892, there was not a soul in what is now the town of Helene, Lincoln county. It now has a population of about 250, the buildings are all good substantial ones and the town is still growing.
-The Weekly Gazette and Stockman, Reno, Nevada, November 24, 1892

Every mining camp needs a notary.

B.L. Duncan
NOTARY PUBLIC
For Lincoln County
Helene, - - Nevada
-Picoche Record, November 10, 1892

Pretty soon, Delamar was just another active Nevada mining camp.

DE LAMAR DOTS
The saw mill force was in town to celebrate the 4th, with the exception of Pat D, who took in the celebration at Eagle Valley
Spiro Docklestich has moved his saloon over from the Helene side and is located about midway down Main street on the north side.
Everybody was peaceably inclined here on the 4th, due to the appointment of a constable, or a lack of bug juice.
With the rising of the sun, Tony DePaoli, at the Flagstaff mine, floated "Old Glory" to the breeze on the Flagstaff Bluff and gave us a rousing salute of dynamite cartridges on the 4th.
The DeLamar boarding house is the place for a good dance.
-The Pioche Record, July 5, 1894


By 1896 things were hopping.

The town of DeLamar was started a little over a year ago and we now have several streets with Main street fairly well built up. There are four stone business houses all of
which would be a credit to any town of 5,000 inhabitants, besides these there are some very fair lumber structures. There are six general merchandise establishments, one drugstore,
three fruit and confectionery houses, one millinery establishment, two law offices, one bakery, five lodging houses, two lunch stands, six boarding houses, three butcher shops,
one Chinese store, three Chinese laundries, two barbershops, three doctor's offices, ten saloons, one water office, one tailor shop, two blacksmith shops, two corrals and stables,
one assay office, one hardware store, and one printing office. We have two resident ministers of the gospel and two public schools. The population numbers about 1,000 and consists of nearly all classes and represents nearly all of the races
-De Lamar Lode January 6, 1896

Like almost every Nevada mining camp, fire could be disastrous and deadly Delamar was no stranger to this calamity.

FIRE SWEEPS THE TOWN OF DE LAMAR, NEVADA
Two Thirds of the Buildings Are Destroyed, and a Thousand Persons Rendered Homeless.
Flames Start Mysteriously-- Long Resist efforts to Stay Progress by Powder and Water
Pioche, Nev., May 29 -- Fire today destroyed two-thirds of the town of Delamar, Nev., including the principal business section and almost all the residences. A thousand people are rendered homeless. The fire started mysteriously in the north end of town, and swept steadily southward before a high wind, despite efforts to blow up buildings in its path. This is the second serious fire De Lamar has had within a few days. It originated in a stockade in the rear of T. E. Edwards' saloon, where two drunken men had been thrown. They have not been seen since. The water system was of no use, and the one-third of the town remaining can credit its existence to luck.
-Salt Lake Herald, May 30, 1900

It took more than a little fire to stop Delamar, though.

DeLamar Dots
Eight buildings in the course of construction.
Some of out calamity wailers have left. Good riddance.
Everything running smoothly at the Delamar mill and mine.
QUite a number of our citizens were handed checks for their losses incurred by the recent fire by Mr. McNamee during the week. The insurance companies seem to be prompter than usual on this occasion.
Since the fire the restaurants seem to be doing a rushing business, and rumor has it that "China Dick" better known as Ed Hing intends to build again and resume business on a larger scale than before. Ed is a good man for business and will make it stick again.
John Justi sells the cheapest beer in town.
The D.L. Werthheimer Co. are selling their dry goods, clothing and boots and shoes below cost. If you try them you will surely buy.
Miss Maggie Clinton always keeps the finest and freshest of candies in the town. Also a good cigar. Fresh oranges and lemons received daily.
Wheece supplies the town with ice at 3 cts a pound. A luxury in these parts.
John Roeder is removing the Roeder & Eisenmann store building from Deer Lodge to Delamar. Mr. Roeder was the heaviest loser by the fire in Delamar, but takes the matter in a philosophical way and intends building and resuming of business. We need a few more such men in Delamar.
Unlike a good many camps, the citizens of Delamar have met their losses bravely and with that fortitude that is characteristic of the AMerican people. A few of the sufferers had a little money laid away for such an emergency, and those that did not only want an opportunity to make it again.
-The Pioche Record, June 29, 1900

By 1901-1902, Delamar started to run out of high-grade ore and began its decline. De La Mar began to sell his holdings and strikes in other camps, like Tonopah, began to siphon off miners. New mine and mill owners made extensive modifications to work with the ore. But Delamar persevered, and even as late as 1906 continued mill improvements and improving the town's infrastructure. Lack of wood- having mostly cut down from nearby hills-- made things more expensive. It created other problems too. During the Winter of 1906-1907, with white workers leaving to work at other camps where they could at least get some firewood, workers from Austria, Serbia, and Czechoslovakia were brought in to replace them, and there were some, shall we say, cultural misunderstandings.

In 1909, the mill shut down. Delamar was dying.

Bamberger engineers, after repeated attempts, found the ore could not be worked profitably and the only solution of the problem was a close down
-The Prospector, September 11, 1909

Sporadic attempts to revive the mines and work the tailings popped up every once in a while.

TEN LEFT IN CAMP
The old mining town of Delamar, at one time a heavy gold producer, and which helped make Captain Delamar his millions, is completely abandoned. ONly ten people are left in the district, and they still have faith in the come back of the old section.
Daily Appeal, August 17, 1921

DELAMAR CAMP BEING REVIVED
Now DeLamar is again on the map with two properties preparing for work, and while only a few men are yet employed the fact that the old DeLamar mine and the formerly famous Magnolia mine are active will be most excellent news to everyone, says the Pioche Record.
Reno Evening Gazette, February 8, 1927

DELAMAR DISTRICT TO BE REVIVED BY ARIZONA OPERATOR
The old gold camp of Delamar which produced its millions in a period which commenced about 1898 is about to be revived, after a long period of idleness during which practically all residents departed.
Reno Evening Gazette, March 21, 1930

DELAMAR CYANIDING COMPANY WILL TRY 'HEAP LEACHING' ON IMMENSE DUMPS OF TAILINGS
Heap leaching of the huge tailings dumps at Delamar will be commenced by the Caliente Cyaniding Company, according to manager H. L. Hazen, who states that the richer sections of the dumps have been materially diminished by mining operations conducted through long tunnels, which, passing under towering pinnacles of the huge dumps, have honeycombed the lower sections which presented the first residue from the former mills. Sections of these tailings assayed over ten dollars in gold and over one thousand tons were shipped to the Garfield plant of the AMerican Smelting and Refining Company.
Reno Evening Gazette, April 5, 1933

WOMAN PIONEER IS SHIPPING ORE
Mrs. Agnes Horn, pioneer resident of Delamar, is still actively engaged in the mining business and has the distinction of being the first individual mine owner ever to make an ore shipment from the famous old camp, The Caliente Herald says.
Reno Evening Gazette, October 26, 1940

DELMAR PIONEER SELLS MINING GROUND
A mining deal of much interest and importance to this section of the county was consummated on Tuesday when Mrs. Agnes Horn, pioneer resident and mine operator of Delamar, sold her valuable gold property to outside interests, represented by H. Edwin Ball of Los Angeles, as a very substantial cash figure, the Caliente Herald reports.
Mrs. Horn, who has resided at Delamar for the past fifty-one years, has the distinction of being the first individual mine owner to make ore shipments from the famous old district. With success finally realized it could be expected that Mrs. Horn would leave her old home for the more abundant comforts of the city. But this is not the case. Mrs. Horn states that she plans to continue to make her home at Delamar and isn't even planning a vacation--at least not for some time.
-Reno Evening Gazette, February 16, 1941

If any future historian works on Delamar, he would do an injustice to the subject if he did not mention Mrs. Agnes Horn. A member of one of the early families, Mrs. Horn believed in Delamar, and kept it alive for years after everyone else had left. AS an elderly lady in the early 1940's she remained its only citizen. She died about five years ago, and her house, the last in town, was torn down and moved away shortly afterward.
-Nevada State Journal, July 15, 1951

MINING FEVER IN TOP ITCH IN CALIENTE
Abandoned Delamar Lode Believed Rediscovered
"Gold fever" almost reminiscent of the old Nevada mining days, was sweeping the community Wednesday when three miners uncovered a lode six feet wide which is believed to be a main lode of the old abandoned Delamar mine.
-Nevada State Journal, April 28, 1957

Not much was heard about Delamar after this, except for an occasional historical piece. THe town was dead.

Helene

The district was organized in 1892. A town called Helene quickly sprang up on the alluvial slope south of the Magnolia Mine and in 1894 boasted a newspaper called "The De Lamar Nugget." After the preliminary development of the Delamar mine the town was moved to its present location at Delamar.
-Reno Evening Gazette, April 16, 1938

In late 1891, Cohen and Ferguson laid out a townsite, situated just below the Magnolia mine. The town, named Helene after Cohen's wife, was soon home to most of the miners from Golden City.
A modest building boom began, with several frame buildings under construction by June, 1892. A portable steam-powered sawmill, called the Monkey Wrench, was outfitted and placed in a heavily-wooded area east of town. The Pioche Weekly Record described the new community.
The town of Helene is prettily situated between the hills and consists of about a dozen tents and two frame buildings, scattered over about ten acres of a level spot in the canyon. The business houses consist of a drug store, a boarding house, a lodging house, and two saloons...[Pioche Weekly Record 6/2/1892:1)
Soon approximately 150 people were living in or near Helene, constituting a sufficiently large population to request the establishment of a voting precinct and post office. Both petitions were granted in July, 1892.
-THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES: A BIO-CULTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE FERGUSON DISTRICT, 1892-1909 By Dawna E. Ferris, 1991

Golden City

The first settlement of the new district was established in April, 1892, near the original mine, and was aptly named Golden City. The camp consisted of approximately a dozen tents; a tent saloon, run by H. H. Cooper, was opened in mid-April. Golden City (renamed Ferguson in July, 1892) was short lived as the hub of the new district, with a major exodus of residents starting within the month.
-THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES: A BIO-CULTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE FERGUSON DISTRICT, 1892-1909 By Dawna E. Ferris, 1991

Reeves

A third Ferguson District camp was started approximately one and a half miles south of Helene, also in April, 1892. Named Reeves, after one of the original discoverers of the Jim Crow-Monitor claims, the small tent camp was located south of those claims and west of April Fool claims. Approximately two dozen workers comprised the core population of the camp until
mid-1894.
-THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES: A BIO-CULTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE FERGUSON DISTRICT, 1892-1909 By Dawna E. Ferris, 1991


Reeves name was changed to "Delamar" in 1894.

POST OFFICE HELENE: June 30, 1892 - December 22, 1894
DELAMAR: August 6, 1894 - June 15, 1914, March 1, 1933 - February 28, 1941
NEWSPAPER Delamar Nugget, Ferguson Lode, The De Lamar Lode, Local Messenger, De La Mar Roaster
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